When the compact Matrix matchback appeared in 2002, many mistook it for a Corolla wagon. But despite being based on the popular sedan's platform, the Matrix has always been marketed as a separate model. Its cargo room, tall body and optional all-wheel drive option make it a viable alternative to the smallest crossovers. Strong crash-test results and decent fuel economy continue to bolster its appeal to young families.
The Matrix has been updated over the years in lockstep with the Corolla, which meant a freshening in 2005 and complete restyle in 2009. An all-new Corolla is due for 2014, but word isn't yet out on whether the Matrix will be redesigned, absorbed into the Corolla line, or discontinued completely.